It’s a growing pet peeve of mine—glorious (if not perfect) food at many Mission restaurants, but a pace of dining more suitable to McDonald’s. In fact, Mission Local pointed out in a piece years ago that McDonald’s lets its customers occupy their tables longer than some of our better restaurants.

Whenever I’m hustled out of a restaurant, I’m reminded of the Chico Club, a superb place, in Honduras. This was in the 1980s, when I was a foreign correspondent covering the civil wars in Central America. One day, a few colleagues and I arrived at the Chico and announced with great self-importance that we were in a hurry, we were reporters! (Translation: We needed to be served rapido!)

The host smiled. “Well then, you don’t have time to eat here,” he said with great courtesy. I can still remember his triumph and our deflation.

In the Mission these days, it’s the restaurateurs who want to turn tables rapido!

Perhaps that’s why lunch, or even breakfast, is my preferred meal out. No one hurries you. (Okay, at Tartine you may suffer glares from would-be diners who want your seat, but the management never seems anxious for guests to leave, or for that matter, to move you through the line to order and pay. However, that’s another story.)

But at Mission Pie, it feels like home. (Or it would be, if my home had fresh flowers on immaculate tables.) I always feel as if I’m walking into the serene and lovely dining room of an exceptionally gracious friend. The divides of the Mission stop at the door. Everyone, it seems, loves pie, but I’m convinced everyone just loves being in Mission Pie’s space.

There’s a nice Mission mix of old-timers, hipsters, students and techies. The smells are always inviting and the pies, walnut scones, salads and now, stews in the evening, all look delectable.

Perhaps it’s because the owners, Krystin Rubin and Karen Heisler, are always around. And obviously they’re owners who care. Other restaurateurs should take note.

Mission Pie has created the perfect ambiance. I’d feel perfectly happy to sit there all day.

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I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

I provide editing support for Mission Local from New York, about 2500 miles away from SFO. (I just looked it up.) This allows me to retain my journalistic objectivity and fussy adherence to East Coast standards of punctuation. I got involved with Mission Local a few years ago through Lydia, whom I met in the early 1980s at The New York Times, where I was a business reporter. Since then I've been in and out of journalism and nonprofits, and have also tried my hand at fiction. A couple of years ago I contributed Mission Local's first fiction series, a comic novel called Love in the Middle Ages.

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